NBA nearing plan to return
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and other high-ranking NBA officials plan to propose a finish to the 2019-20 season that includes 22 teams, a play-in tournament for the final seeds in each conference and a 16-team playoff at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex just outside of Orlando, Florida, a person with knowledge of the details told USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly until owners vote on the proposal. That is expected to happen Thursday’s at the NBA’s Board of Governors video conference. It requires three-fourths owners’ approval, and owners are expected to approve the plan.
Also, there remains a chance that discussion evolves on the video conference and a vote does not take place. If owners vote in favor of this plan, the National Basketball Players Association must ratify it to resume play.
The plan is the culmination of discussions, feedback and input that combines the best balance of competing principles while prioritizing player health, the person said.
While Silver has acknowledged that no plan will be perfect, there are financial reasons on both sides to finish the season.
The 22 teams will include nine from the Eastern Conference and 13 and from the Western Conference.
In the East: Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston, Miami, Indiana, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Orlando and Washington.
In the West: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Utah, Oklahoma City, Houston, Dallas, Memphis, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix.
A general view of game between Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons at Wells Fargo Center.
The plan also includes an eight-game finish to the regular season, then a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in both conferences. If the ninth seed is not within four games of the eight seed, there won’t be a play-in game in that conference. If there is a play-in game, it will be double elimination for the eighth seed and single elimination for the ninth seed.
The sports complex located among several Disney properties in central Florida has multiple courts to facilitate several games a day. Imagine Thursday-Friday NCAA Tournament-style action every day through the end of the regular season and first round of the playoffs.
While a fluid situation, teams could report to the complex in July for a 2½ week-style training camp before games begin in late July. With a playoff stretch that could extend into October, the two finalists could end up spending close to three months in a single location under restrictive health and safety guidelines.
The NBA suspended its season March 11 when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). At least 10 NBA players tested positive.
Silver and league officials have been adamant that the health and safety of players are paramount when it comes to a return. While some details are being finalized, it is expected there will be regular, if not daily, testing for COVID